Round and About in Old Isleworth

Yellow buoys appeared recently in the Thames upstream from Richmond Lock and Thistleworth Marine, Isleworth Promenade.  This relates to a trial exercise by Thames Water.  Each buoy contains sensors and data loggers to enable monitoring of water quality at various intervals.  Talking of the river, the extension to the footpath along the riverfront at Isleworth House (former Nazareth House site) is now in place.  According to St James’s, main developers of the site, it is hoped to open this to the public around the end of September.  The delay is due partly to the (inexplicable) fact the Council has permitted Bellway, responsible for the Swan Court development, to almost totally block off the end of Lion Wharf Road with construction cabins, making access to the path along the Herons Place section less than attractive or desirable.

On the subject of the former Nazareth House site, the developers made application to remove a mature lime tree located within the garden of a newly built property.   As one Councillor pertinently asked when the proposal was considered by Planning Committee, “which came first the tree or house?”   Along the way it transpired prior permission had been granted to prune the tree.  Had this been carried out its overhang would have been acceptable.  Despite an offer to plant three willows in different locations, the Committee refused the request. Tree Preservation Orders have now been placed on this tree and another beside it but within the communal garden.  A further contentious request at this site is that of retaining windows installed in new properties which do not conform to the original consent.  Planning Committee, at the request of TIS, is due to deliberate on the merits or otherwise of this in September.

By coincidence, a TIS member asked if it was possible to arrange a visit to this Richmond Road site where the development is nearing completion.  The Project Manager agreed to this but restricted numbers to 4-5 rather than a number which would have enabled offering the visit to members at large.  And so it was this number were treated to a site tour.  This included seeing over the unsurprisingly impressive show house, given a sale price of c£3m, as well as the extensive communal grounds and including the new riverside path. Nothing can be seen of the former Isleworth Pottery site now partially covered by foundations of a property.  Mention was made an information plaque may be installed to highlight its location.  It is good to be able to report the centre piece, Isleworth House, looks to have been restored to a high standard.

During 2013 TIS compiled and submitted to LBofH details of buildings and structures it felt should be included in the Borough’s Local List.  Entries on this are considered worthy of preserving because of their quality, style and/or historical importance.  With the advent of a new Borough Conservation Officer and assistant the Council now aims to update the List.

Ideas, which TIS has now re-submitted, are wide ranging - Ferry House with its 17thC beginnings and nationally important residents, artist J. M. W. Turner and Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar, author, editor of the Spectator and a renowned “wet” in Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher’s, government; manhole covers and drain gratings, produced at the South Street Foundry established by William Winterborne in the late 1800s.  During the 1st World War they made block brakes for the army. William is credited with inventing the free wheel mechanism for bicycles about 1870 and selling the patent to Raleigh Cycle Company. He received a gold inventor’s medal from Queen Victoria. The monument in Park Road cemetery to Victorian heroine Alice Ayres is also included.  She lived in Magdala Road Isleworth.  Its inscription includes “Alice Ayres aged 26 years met her death through a fire which occurred in Union Street Borough 24th April 1885. With true courage she heroically rescued children committed to her charge.  To save them she three times braved the flames; at last leaping from the burning house she sustained injuries from the effects of which she died on April 26th 1885”. 

Those running Cathja’s charitable mental health project from the barge moored at 20 Church Street had a busy time recently, their annual summer trip took them to Belgium for a few weeks.  Their return was followed by formal opening of a room for community use within their charity shop based in the former Motorwise premises, Brentford High Street.  When they took over the shop this room was in a poor condition.  A grant from Inspire Hounslow has enabled this to be put to rights and it will be available for hire at minimal charge to community groups.  Enquiries should be directed to Rin on 07904406507

On the subject of community groups, a Friendship Café operates from Bridgelink Centre at Ivybridge, Tuesday’s 10.30 a.m. to 12.00 (term time) with a range of activities from bingo, gentle fitness classes, to nail pampering; the contact number is 020 8891 6820.  A free of charge Monday Club meets at All Soul’s Church, Northcote Road - telephone 020 8891 6820 to find out more.  These are in addition to the Tuesday Club for 55 year olds and over who are young at heart, held (term time) 1.00 – 3.00 at the St John’s Centre, St John’s Road where the contact is Jackie 020 8568 3781, and a Lunch Club for Over 60s meeting at the Star Centre, 63-65 Bell Road Hounslow.  Freshly cooked two course meals are served at 12.00 Monday to Friday, cost £3.  The centre opens at 10.30 a.m. for coffee and tea; telephone 07807813266 for further details.

In a similar vein, if you are diabetic or want to find out more about it, Hounslow Local Group of Diabetes UK run activities, including open meetings on a range of issues and providing a help desk at West Middlesex Hospital Mondays and Tuesdays most weeks. To increase this facility they are seeking more volunteers to help in various ways to ensure diabetics receive a service that meets their needs. Email contact is hounslowdiabetes@gmail.com or phone 07796 040560. Likewise, Isleworth Voluntary Care Network, set up 20 or more years ago, with the sub heading “Local people helping each other”, offer help to the elderly and disabled within TW7 Post Code area.  This takes the form of lifts to hospital and doctors’ surgery appointments, etc., befriending clients at home, as well as holding occasional coffee mornings and outings.  New volunteer drivers and/or offers to help running the office or befriending clients are always welcome.   The contact number is 020 8569 8254.

St John’s Centre is seeking volunteers to help it continue running as the couple who for some 25 years have shouldered the lion’s share of this are stepping down in December. TIS wish them well in their search as the Centre is popular for community and public meetings.  For instance, instead of keeping to their usual venue, of Brentford Free Church, Isleworth & Brentford Area Forum chose St John’s for their July meeting. Topics included promoting a consultation, running to 15th September, seeking ideas on spend for the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions which now accrue to the Borough from new development sites.  85% is used for structural infrastructure with 15% available for community projects where residents and businesses are able to put forward suggestions for improvements in their area.  

Stop Heathrow Expansion also recently held a meeting at St John’s Centre emphasising the amber light given in October 2016 for a third runway. Following a subsequent consultation the Transport Select Committee will make recommendations based on those findings with a vote in Parliament due in the first half of 2018.  Assuming full go-ahead is given, after a further consultation, the aim is for the runway to be built by 2025.  Hurdles to overcome include curbing air pollution and noise, providing sufficient infrastructure, roads and transport, to serve the increased capacity airport.   

As a result of several meetings and consultations, an 18 month trial covered by CCTV, commenced in July implementing no entry restrictions (except for cycles) from London Road into Linkfield Road.  Given a lack of consensus over proposed times when Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) would apply in the Linkfield/St John’s Road general area, further consultation is taking place.  However, following responses to a CPZ consultation for the North Street area, it has been agreed to progress this to a design stage.  It will cover Lower Square and Church Street from the Square up to and including Manor House Way, Harcourt Close, Hartland Road, North Street, Parthenia Drive, Silverhall Street and 74-110 Twickenham Road.  Following a call for further feedback a review is underway as to whether restrictions should also apply in Mill Plat (eastern end) and along the riverside in front of All Saints’ Church.

Staying with traffic issues, from the outset of the proposal to turn the former King’s Arms into a small supermarket it was evident issues would arise over parking at South Street/Worple Road junction.  This turned out to be the case with inconsiderate motorists ignoring double yellow lines, parking on the pavement and even within the forecourt intended as a communal area. The latter parking was facilitated by a dropped kerb, formerly giving access to the pub car park.  After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing finally agreement was obtained to remove this.  If substantial planters were installed to accord with the planning consent for the shop this would not only improve the ambiance but act as a further deterrent.  TIS is on the case!

When the Council Leader came on walkabout in Isleworth in May he commented on accumulated litter on the footpath leading from North Street to Mill Plat.  This is one of many areas (estimated at 436 Borough wide) that fall within the category where responsibility for maintenance has not been defined, namely where there is public access to land but ownership is either unclear and/or has not been adopted by LBofH.  Hence when this case was reported to Hounslow Highways (HH) it was categorised as a “blue area”, meaning clearance is not within their contracted remit.  HH did clear the litter on that occasion as they have in the past.  This case highlights the situation that, other than litter clearance, street lighting and general maintenance on that path (and the landscaped area in front of the Isleworth Centre, pathway from Linkfield Road to the Town, etc) receive little or no attention.  Discussion has been in course for years between HH and LBofH in an endeavour to resolve these issues.  Resolution was promised by the end of June, now extended to the year end and will probably chunter on after that.

Roll out of the new system for recycling and waste in July was not LBofH’s finest hour.  Almost every relevant leaflet was ambiguous causing confusing over the arrangements.   A July report on the subject posted on the council’s website reads “throughout this year we did not meet our quarterly targets for increased household waste recycling to at least 35% and maintain acceptable levels of litter.  However we exceeded our target for household waste removed and all three for detritus, graffiti and flyposting are lower than they have been in the previous year.  Draft action plans have been developed to address the shortcomings”.  As an observation, improvement in ensuring litter bins are emptied daily as is required would help gain acceptable levels of litter in our streets.

Effective from lst August the Council’s contract with Carillion to run all library services was ended by mutual agreement to be taken back in house.  Assurances have been given no library closures are planned with the service continuing in a seamless fashion.  Although there have been rumours this will change, Carillion remains for the present as the Council’s provider contracted to maintain the Borough’s parks.  In Isleworth coveted Green Flag awards have again been awarded to St John’s and Jersey Gardens although Redlees lost their one this year.

However, as a plus, the Council has commissioned LUC, landscape architects, to design four children’s play spaces in the Borough.  Principal among them is Redlees.  It’s good to be able to report rejection of a previous plan to remove perimeter fencing for this play area; the boundary will stay as it is at present.  New equipment will be added with the best of that already there retained.  The theme will be “a journey” with trails to inspire use of the whole space and encourage children to explore and be more active.  LUC meet with the Council during September to provide fully costed final plans, the aim being that, following sign-off, work will take place during the winter with the area re-opening Spring 2018.

Richmond Lock Doctors’ Surgery based in Richmond Borough just over Hounslow’s border by the River Crane has closed its books to new registrations for the TW7 area, current patients continue with them as before.  General consensus is that this is because of a worry the surgery would not be able to cope with an anticipated large influx of new patients once Isleworth House and Swan Court developments are fully occupied.  Meanwhile Greenbook Isleworth and Grove practices based at 146 Twickenham Road now come under a new provider – The Argyle Health Group.  This already serves 24,000 patients across Ealing, Hounslow and North West London.  The Care Quality Commission awarded it “outstanding” in recognition of its elderly care services, which is encouraging news.  Its hours remain Monday-Friday 8.00-18.00, Saturdays 8.00-12.00.

While talking of “over the border”, Sandycombe Lodge, Twickenham, designed and built by landscape artist J.M.W. Turner, 1813, as a country retreat, has re-opened and is well worth a visit.  Over the past 18 months it has been transformed from virtual dereliction and returned to the condition Turner would have known when living there with his “Old Dad”.  Additions to the experience are such innovative items as a telescope providing the countryside views he would have known, a grandfather clock that emits quotes of his fishing and painting trips; in addition to donated prints decorating the walls.